I recently returned from what I like to call my annual pilgrimage to the Alps. Believe me, I save all year for seven days skiing in the Alps and this year I managed to keep costs down compared to visits in past years.
I didn’t go to a cheaper resort – there really aren’t any on that side of the pond – in fact, I returned to one of my favorite places, Val d’Isere, France, and skied around the 25,000 acres of L’Espace Killy. That’s well over a hundred miles of marked trails and all the off-piste to want – this is France, aftera ll; if you can see it, you can ski it.
What’s my secret to saving money skiing in the Alps? Rent an apartment. There are a ton of them available. In the past, I’ve always looked to stay in hotels as do, according to the natives, most Americans.
The great majority of middle class British and European skiers stay in either apartments or large chalets that hold upwards of twenty people.
Why haven’t Americans embraced apartment renting in Europe? It’s probably because we aren’t used to staying in an apartment at a ski resort here in the U.S. We stay in hotels or condos. In fact, the American dream is to get out of apartments and into our own home.
Owning a single-family home is not the ultimate dream in the U.K. and Europe where apartment living – due to limited open space – is the norm.
So, what do you get in Europe for an apartment? This year in Val d’Isere I rented a second floor apartment with three bedrooms, three full baths, full kitchen, dining area, sitting area with fireplace and flat screen TV with 100 cable channels for seven nights.
The building was on the main street two blocks from the lifts and a block from Val shopping, dining and nightlife.
How much you ask? That apartment cost about a third of what I paid three years ago for a queen size room in a three star Val d’Isere hotel.
Just about every major resort throughout the Alps has a web site with links to hotels, chalets and apartments. If you feel overwhelmed searching around the site, there’s almost always a central reservations system out of the local Tourism office that you can call and speak to a knowledgeable, English speaking representative who can match you and your family to an apartment within your budget.
Speaking of budgets, two other new cost savings came into focus this year. First and foremost, the Euro is swinging in our favor and by next season may very well be equal to the dollar or even below a dollar.
Second, I toured several ski stores in Val d’Isere and noticed that the ski rentals available range from standard demos up to high-end performance equipment. What stands out in terms of the quality of the skis is that they don’t get the usage you would expect since the locals (Europeans and British) tend to bring their own. You can also book online rental packages at a discount in advance.
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to say you love skiing and I truly hope at some point you’ll plan a trip to ski in the Alps, if you haven’t already been. The sheer beauty and grandeur you will never forget, and skiing those unending snowfields is a joy that you will remember forever.